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Was Jesus a vegetarian?
November 8, 2010
by Dr. Tom Rakow, Pastor; Grace Bible Church, Silver Lake

Some things are hard to swallow. Listening to certain animal rights activists attempting to transform Jesus Christ into a vegetarian is certainly one of them!

The fact is, this type of misinformation and misrepresentation should greatly disturb every Christian.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I am not against vegetarianism. However, I am opposed to people purposely misrepresenting the Scriptures and Christ, Himself, in order to promote their own agenda.

The Bible reveals just the opposite to be true – Jesus was not a vegetarian. Nor do we find in the Bible that He ever promoted such a practice.

Sadly, some have tried to claim that Jesus was a vegetarian in order to build a case against hunting, or any kind of meat consumption. This argument usually follows a rather simplistic line of reasoning and goes something like this: “Jesus was a vegetarian, therefore hunting is wrong.” Or, “Hunting is wrong, therefore Jesus must have been a vegetarian.”

A search of the Scriptures reveals that the using of animals for food can ultimately be traced back to the Bible. Following the flood in Noah’s day, God blessed Noah and his sons and then went on to tell them, “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” (Genesis 9:3). The Lord clearly permitted the eating of animals.

In Leviticus, chapter 17, we have a Divine hunting regulation more than 3,000 years old that reveals hunting was practiced in the Holy Land. Those who hunted animals in the land of Israel were instructed as to how they were to treat the blood of harvested game. The Scriptures state, “Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth.” (v. 13).

We also know that the animals that could be harvested and eaten included both domesticated and wild animals. The Bible states,”“These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the deer, the gazelle, the roe deer, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope and the mountain sheep.” (Deuteronomy 14:4-5, NIV).

Nevertheless, someone might argue, “That’s the Old Testament. It has nothing to do with Jesus!” However, concerning Jesus Christ, we find in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, that He actually expanded the Mosaic menu of permissible foods. The Bible tells us, “‘ . . . Jesus declared all foods ‘clean.’”(Mark 7:19b).

In addition, we know that Jesus participated in the Passover meal as commanded in Exodus 12. For the Hebrews, the Passover served as a significant reminder of an important time when the Lord delivered His people out of Egyptian bondage. It was the Lord’s plan that the Passover ritual be performed by each ensuing generation on an annual basis.

The Passover celebration included (among other things) a meal with roast lamb. The Israelites were directed to “eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast.” (Exodus 12:8). Regarding the lamb, they were warned not to “break any of the bones.” (Exodus 12:46).

We know that the Lord Jesus ate the Passover. In fact, according to Luke 22, what we commonly call the “Last Supper” was actually the Passover. Therefore, Jesus Christ cannot accurately be classified as a vegetarian in that He, being a faithful Jew and having come to fulfill the law and the prophets, also ate the Passover.

According to the Scriptures, Jesus not only multiplied loaves and fishes in order to feed thousands, but after His resurrection, we are told that the disciples “gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.” (Luke 24:42-43). Yes, it seems quite significant that even after Jesus Christ had taken on His glorified body, He ate a piece of fish.

There is nothing wrong with being a vegetarian. However, by eating the Passover lamb, and a piece of fish, Jesus Christ cannot be classified or touted as a vegetarian.